Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Meeting minutes: Hospital told County Council about medical office building

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, has made a discovery as the council continues to try to wrap its head around the tax abatement granted to Porter Regional Hospital.

At the start of Wednesday’s joint meeting with the County Commissioners to discuss investments, Whitten said that meeting minutes from July 26, 2011, show that Jonathan Nalli, who was CEO of Porter Health System at the time, told the council that the 60,000-square foot building is not under the abatement.

“If anyone asks why the hospital did not tell us about this, they did,” Whitten said.

The minutes show that Council Member Jim Polarek, R-4th, specifically asked Nalli whether that building would be included in the 10-year abatement which the Council granted unanimously in 2009.

“That is not under the abatement,” Nalli responded, according to the minutes. “That’s actually not a project of Porter Health System. We are leasing the grounds to a development company that we’re working closely with for that project.”

Nalli also stated that the office building would be connected to the hospital at 85 E. U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township, that the building’s construction cost was estimated at $11 million, and that it would be built by the same general contractor with workers from Northwest Indiana.

Nalli appeared before the council at that meeting to discuss the hospital’s compliance with the statement of benefits up to that point.

The minutes also show, however, that Nalli did not name the partner for the office building, later identified in a press release sent to the Chesterton Tribune in August 2011 as The Sanders Trust (TST). The release said that TST would retain the majority ownership of the building.

At a press conference last week, Council Member Jim Biggs, R-1st, maintained that the building should be left out of the abatement because TST never asked the council for it to be included. Biggs apparently also assumed that the hospital never mentioned to the council its arrangement with TST but the July 26, 2011, minutes show both that he was at that meeting and that he seconded a motion to approve the hospital’s statement of compliance report.

Biggs has said that he was unable to get answers about the building’s owner from hospital officials at the Feb. 27 council meeting, so took it upon himself to research the matter.

The discussion surrounding the abatement will continue at the council’s next meeting in April. All seven members voted in favor of asking hospital officials to attend.

 

Posted 3/13/2014